DBEDT NEWS RELEASE: EMERGENCY BROADBAND BENEFIT PROGRAM READY TO ACCEPT MORE HOUSEHOLDS WITH FREE INTERNET SERVICE

Posted on Aug 13, 2021 in Latest News, Newsroom

HONOLULU As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our reliance on internet connectivity to work remotely, engage in distance learning, utilize telehealth services, and access government services online becomes more in demand. But, with the help of a program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), low-income families everywhere, including Hawai‘i, are able to access truly affordable internet service. Currently, more than 9,000 households across Hawai‘i are enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, amounting to more than one million dollars in savings for island residents who need it most.

Leveraging federal programs like the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit to support the pivot towards a digital economy is a key initiative for the State.

“We know how critical internet access is for everyday life here in Hawaii – from remote work to distance learning receiving telehealth services,” said Mike McCartney, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). “There are thousands more residents who qualify to receive discounted internet service in their homes and can benefit from this program.”

It’s estimated that more than 100,000 households in Hawai‘i currently qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The Hawai‘i Broadband & Digital Equity Office is encouraging all qualified families and individuals to apply for the program, which provides monthly discounts of up to $50 towards broadband service, or up to $75 for households on Hawaiian Home Lands. Eligible households may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating Hawai‘i internet service providers, if they contribute a minimum of $10 towards the  purchase price. To apply, or for more information on the program, visit broadband.hawaii.gov/ebb.

“A million dollars saved means a million dollars more in our local residents’ pockets,” said Burt Lum, Broadband Strategy Officer for the Hawai‘i Broadband & Digital Equity Office. “The more eligible families that receive these benefits, the more equitable our digital future will be.”

Hawai‘i households are eligible to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental  Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans and  Survivors Pension Benefit, or Lifeline program.
  • Received benefits under the free and reduced-price school breakfast or lunch program
  • Filed for unemployment or PUA or experienced a loss of hours in the last year

To see the full list of eligibility details, visit broadband.hawaii.gov/ebb.

Participating Hawaii internet service providers for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program currently include:

Hawai‘i households can apply for the program in three ways:

  • Contact your internet service provider directly to learn about their application process and what benefits they offer
  • Apply online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org
  • Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application and mail it with your proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081 London, KY 40742

Households applying for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program can receive assistance by contacting participating providers directly, or by calling the FCC Call Center at 833-511-0311. For a list of tips and frequently asked questions, visit broadband.hawaii.gov/ebb.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 – passed by Congress in December 2020 – which established the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. For more information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and how to apply, visit broadband.hawaii.gov/ebb.

# # #